BARNUM, Phineas Taylor, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

We are members of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association We are members of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers


Home | Recent | Search | Browse | Contact | Links | Information | News | Facsimiles | Forgeries | Back

Barnum buys Jumbo the elephant

BARNUM, Phineas Taylor (1810-1891). American showman.
Autograph Letter Signed to [William T. Stead], editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, 1 page 8vo with integral blank, headed paper of Waldemere, Bridgeport, CT, no date. Expressing his intention 'to place the great show (Jumbo included) in London and the Provinces' and asking Stead to send him the relevant copy of the Gazette should he publish 'the enclosed, or any remarks concerning it'.

Barnum may have written this letter in the spring of 1882, shortly after he purchased Jumbo from London Zoo for $10,000. The largest elephant then in captivity, he had been one of the zoo's main attractions for over 15 years and the British public were outraged by the sale. On 24 February 1882 the Pall Mall Gazette published 'Mr Barnum's Message to England', which was the telegram sent by Barnum to the editor of the Daily Telegraph in an attempt to assuage 'the anxiety of the English children for the retention of Jumbo in this country': 'Fifty millions of American citizens anxiously awaiting Jumbo's arrival. My forty years' invariable practice of exhibiting best that money could procure makes Jumbo's presence here imperative. Hundred thousand pounds would be no inducement to cancel purchase. In December next I visit Australia ... Following summer to London. I shall then exhibit in every prominent city in Great Britain. May afterwards return Jumbo to his old position in Royal Zoological Gardens ...'. Jumbo was transported to America in March and never returned to Britain.

Stead was to lose his life in the sinking of the Titanic (15 April 1912).

£750 [No: 26334]
Email about this entry